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What is Alkaline Water?

By Ken Black
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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Alkaline water, also known as ionized water, is a beverage that is neither acidic nor neutral on the pH scale, having a level above 7. It is available through commercial or home systems and is also sold in bottles. This substance has drawn high praise and is touted by some individuals as cure for a wide range of medical conditions, but it also has many critics and requires more research before benefits can be confirmed.

PH Level

Although it can be slightly acidic depending on its source, water usually is considered neutral on the pH scale, having a pH of 7. Alkaline water has a pH of approximately 8. The exact pH level depends largely on the brand or the equipment used to alkalize the water.

Access

This liquid is available from a number of different sources. Most commonly, people add an alkalizer to a tap water system, such as a kitchen sink. The other alternative is to buy bottled versions. While this may be the more expensive option over time, it is a simple way to get the product quickly.

Health Benefits

To function well, the human body can be neither too acidic nor too basic. Natural mechanisms allow the body to get rid of both excess acids and accumulated bases. Some people believe that diet is a major way to influence the pH balance of the body, therefore effecting physiological functioning and overall health. They believe that, when the body is too acidic, alkaline water can correct the imbalance.

Proponents of this beverage claim that it can be a treatment for asthma, heartburn, indigestion and a host of other ailments. Slowing the aging process is another supposed benefit. It even is said to keep cancer at bay. Another general assertion is that alkaline water can prevent the illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses, because according to advocates, most bacteria and viruses thrive in acidic environments.

Criticisms

Some believe that the stated health benefits of alkaline water are overstated, and that it has little to do with stabilizing or reducing acidity in the body. In fact, some argue the stated health benefits are simply a fabrication of those in the industry and are doubtful at best. In short, they are only mentioned in order to make money.

Chemists say water is not conductive enough to go through any significant ionization. Also, alkaline beverages naturally cause the stomach to produce more digestive acids to keep the stomach's pH balance around 4. Sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate, both bases, are biproducts of this process and do enter the bloodstream, so any increase in the body's pH from alkaline water is somewhat indirect. The fact that the stomach responds to taking in alkaline foods by producing more acid means that too much basic food or drink can disrupt healthy digestion.

As long as the buffering systems of the body are working properly, pH increases should not be significant. Even so, having to compensate all the time for a diet that is overly alkaline can tax the buffering systems that eliminate acids and bases. Eventually, the body might have a hard time regulating the acid-alkaline balance.

Experts also point out that viruses and bacteria thrive in an enormous range of environments, depending on their classification. Stomach acids play a role in eliminating pathogens that could cause illness, but they do not kill 100 percent of harmful organisms. Similarly, moving the body to a basic condition does not eliminate the risk of getting sick completely. It merely shifts which types of organisms survive to cause illness.

A simple, non-medical reason for rejecting manufactured alkaline water is that, in most industrial regions, water is already slightly alkaline. Water treatment officials often alkalize water to at least 8 to prevent the erosion of piping.

Research

A major issue with this kind of water is that simply not enough research has been done to show conclusively that that the benefits proponents assert actually exist. Even if many of the claims are true, the only people who really would benefit are individuals who already have trouble keeping their body alkaline enough, or people who already have some problems with their natural buffering systems. The decision to use the product therefore is still highly personal. It is a good idea for a person to alert his physician to the type of water selected, as this can influence other recommendations and treatments the doctor prescribes.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon997241 — On Dec 01, 2016

Are there any studies done that we look at?

By anon941727 — On Mar 24, 2014

Interestingly there is nothing in the posts regarding claimed benefits that is anything other than anecdotal. In one instance of unintended comedy the poster actually chides skeptics for not understanding chemistry and then makes factual misstatements about the meanings of chemical properties liberally flavored with -- more anecdotal evidence.

An increasingly large portion of our population falls prey to people who, wittingly or not, are willing to believe something because somebody else already does. This article, and in particular the posts, are a very illuminating read. It is rare that such an effective primer is so unintentionally assembled.

By h2a — On Jan 29, 2014

Alkaline water is not just about the pH of the water. If it was all about pH, all you'd have to do to achieve that is add pH drops to your tap water. Alkaline water is about much more than pH; it's ionized pH water. That means it has an oxidant reduction potential (ORP), that makes it an antioxidant more powerful than green tea. Like many, I didn't know that. So I wanted to add it to this discussion.

By anon359708 — On Dec 20, 2013

Alkaline water is not anti-acid. The water in my native Afghanistan is from melting snow with a very high PH and the people of my village are all healthy and long living. Cancer, diabetes or regular BP and other such diseases are almost unheard of. Vision weakness is so rare that a friend from Pakistan staying in our house scared a two year old child when she turned suddenly towards him. Women as old as 60-65 are having kids and menstruating and old men work the fields well into their 70's. Yes and no cavities even though no one brushes. (I thought it was the mineral in the water). Also now I know why I sleep well and feel more energetic and all my aches and pains all disappear when I visit back home.)

Recently a man died in the village. He was said to be 115 years old (rural Afghans count in lunar years) but he had no illness. He went to pray in the mosques a couple of hours before he died peacefully; he just came to the end of his life, leaving behind a dozen offspring aged 78 and below (the youngest a 15 year old girl).

My advice to you folks is this is the best, most natural water for you. The people who did find it useful could be drinking fake alkaline water.

By anon355946 — On Nov 20, 2013

I use the Glasstic Shatterproof Glass Water Bottle for carrying around my alkaline water. It is perfect for me because it combines the purity of glass with the peace of mind of BPA free plastic.

By anon351671 — On Oct 15, 2013

After two days drinking alkaline water, I feel light and had a nice sleep.

By anon338743 — On Jun 17, 2013

Well, a short time ago I began experiencing symptoms best described as someone pounding nails through my back. Painkillers such as Ibuprofen and Motrin were utterly useless. I could get temporary relief from swabbing my back and chest with propyl alcohol, which I assume is because the alcohol numbed the skin and nerves.

I did some research on the net and found several sites which stated that one side effect of consuming high pH water is severe nerve pain in the back and chest. In retrospect, these symptoms seemed to appear in me when I began consuming 9.5 pH water. I am ceasing my consumption and will see if the symptoms disappear. I worry about these internet "cures" and all the "testimonials" touting them.

By anon338074 — On Jun 10, 2013

I have been drinking alkaline water for just a month. The pain in my joints for arthritis is completely gone. I will never stop drinking this water. It is great.

By anon332707 — On Apr 30, 2013

My daughter started taking "alkaline water" and saw significant positive changes within 24 hours and so did my partner and I. We even use the acidic ionized water for beauty, which is good for any skin issues. Even if you don't believe in it, try it and you will see the difference.

By anon331950 — On Apr 25, 2013

Is it possible that only food entering the stomach would cause pepsin to be secreted? If this true, then absorption of alkaline water could cause ph of the body to increase in the 7.0 > range. This would be beneficial to cellular respiration and electron transport across the membrane of the mitochondria and thus benefit all cellular reactions/processes. No cancer, diabetes, arthritis, flu, osteoporosis, allergies, etc., etc.

By anon308184 — On Dec 10, 2012

There are lots of arguments regarding alkaline water. Why not give it a try?

My wife suffered from insomnia and back pain (upper right side) for more than three years. After drinking alkaline water (kangen water), she feels the effects. She sleeps better and back pain was reduced 80 or 90 percent.

Every member of our family is now drinking kangen water and we feel the difference.

By anon296587 — On Oct 11, 2012

Is this water good for you or not?

By anon290239 — On Sep 08, 2012

Still not sure about all this yet, but my friend gave me three glasses yesterday and I swear it felt like my body absorbed the water before it made it to my stomach.

By anon278919 — On Jul 10, 2012

I am surgeon from India. I have used alkaline water for more than 10,000 patients with miraculous results. Those who said that drinking alkaline water has no effect on the body are either too weak in chemistry or are poor in their understanding body functions.

Stomach acid is not an excretory product of the body; it is just a part of the process. Alkaline water consumption reduces the body's acidic waste product load. Just try this simple thing and stay away from almost all metabolic diseases.

By anon278076 — On Jul 04, 2012

My friend gave me a small bottle of alkaline but I'm afraid to use it. Are there any side effects if I mix it with tap water or juices, soda, etc.? I'm confused.

By anon275457 — On Jun 18, 2012

No virus -- let me repeat that: no virus can live in an alkaline environment. Viruses thrive in an acidic environment. Both statements are scientific fact.

By Newshound — On Dec 05, 2011

Hawkers of “ionizer” water machines claim tremendous benefits; skeptics call it snake oil. I thought the skeptics were right; turns out I was sort of wrong. Not that the hawkers aren't scamming people; they are!

By anon208616 — On Aug 23, 2011

To those who pooh pooh alkaline water: it's your right. However, after drinking alkaline water for only two months, I was told by my doctor to stop taking my cholesterol medication, he reduced my thyroid and high blood pressure medications and told me that my creatinine level was finally (after five years of closely being watched) coming down and I wouldn't have to be put on dialysis.

A few months later, I no longer had any carpel tunnel pain in my wrists and my knee pain disappeared. I also no longer suffer with hay-fever. I will continue to drink alkaline water for the rest of my life and take my machine wherever I travel.

By anon176903 — On May 17, 2011

I have an alkaline ionizer. I bought it for $68. There is a one to two year life span of the stones that convert tap water or mineral water in to alkaline water. GUC Alakaline Ionizer or energized water was developed using nano technology.

By anon159917 — On Mar 14, 2011

is that true? the alkaline water is just for one day?

By anon157843 — On Mar 04, 2011

If you did see the video for the ionized ph 9 demo alone with the soda drinks, orange juice, tap water, other bottom water, etc., the ph9 water does almost nothing once mixed with soda pop, thus, does most likely nothing in the stomach. I can see the acid from a soda to be more than the stomach.

By anon157718 — On Mar 04, 2011

I have a cousin who is suffering from gout, which is the cause of an uric acid build up in the joints. We were thinking if consumption of alkaline water will neutralize the pH level in the body thus, reducing the chances of suffering from another gout attack. Do advise. Thanks. -John

By anon153027 — On Feb 15, 2011

I've found ph8 drinking water to be the purest form of alkaline water, I have a friend in a wheelchair for 27 years who has been in and out of hospital with boils and lesions form the chair. Since drinking ph8 drinking water from the yorke peninsula for the last two years he has not been back to hospital and has no boils and lesions. He drinks predominantly ph8 drinking water and swears by it.

By anon150269 — On Feb 07, 2011

I'm a dental health care professional and for the matter of our oral cavity alkaline water is a great alternative to fluoride (effects of which on our body are yet to be discovered). Alkaline water may help reduce cavities. What comes to the rest of body effects I would like to see more scientific research. My doctor is going to spend over $2000 for a ionizer and I wonder if that is worth any effort.

By anon148174 — On Jan 31, 2011

So where is the peer reviewed research?

By anon147006 — On Jan 28, 2011

there's always a mystery behind this. alkaline water is the newest technology in the health industry today, but unknown to many, this water was patterned way back to early life on earth where water can be found in the mountains, springs, glaciers and any nature alike. Alkaline water is the original water and a living water.

By anon146269 — On Jan 25, 2011

I have been on Alkaline water for several months now. let me tell you that I have lost weight (easily was obese) and my IBS has never been a problem again.

In fact, I now tell almost everyone about it and advocate people drink it for losing weight. --Shabir D.

By anon127032 — On Nov 14, 2010

I've been using a portable alkaliser/ioniser for years and they're great. you can get systems from these guys at a fraction of the cost of some of the more expensive machines and they do as good if not a better job.

By anon122301 — On Oct 27, 2010

Alkaline water is not what it is suppose to be. I drank the water for about two months and started having all kinds of problems with my kidney and bloating. Alkaline water is just for the money.

By anon117816 — On Oct 11, 2010

Alkaline water doesn't change your body's pH - once it hits the stomach it causes your body to produce a larger amount of our body's bicarbonate buffers - internally increasing the ability of our bodies to neutralize acid increases (as from our horrible diets of soda and fast food).

The jury is out on the true benefits of this except for those who use it. They all have seen health changes for the better.

By anon108737 — On Sep 04, 2010

I just tried alkaline water for the first time two days ago, and wow! I'm not going to give details, but the results were noticeable within only one day!

The critics will dismiss this as unscientific and who cares? I gave up on using modern medicine 20 years ago.

By anon106460 — On Aug 25, 2010

You need to have the acids in your stomach to breakdown proteins and reduce bacterial growth. Therefore, counter productive if your goal to reduce stomach acid.

Next, after passing through the stomach the acidic contents gets neutralized to appropriate pH in the duodenum so that nutrients can be absorbed by small blood vessels in the small intestine. The remaining undigested food particles move to the large colon where good bacteria take care of any leftovers and their byproducts create an acidic environment again for your healthy bowel movement.

By anon103530 — On Aug 12, 2010

@anon94557: Why are people getting so many positive results from using alkaline/ ionized water?

it has even been used on dogs that have chronic arthritis and within a year they are healed. Can't be placebo. Snake oil?

By anon94557 — On Jul 09, 2010

Adding an 'alkalizer' is just the same as taking an antacid, though they charge far more for it. If you don't have heartburn or acid reflux it's totally wasted money. Once more snake oil salesmen are conning the scientifically ignorant.

By anon87598 — On May 31, 2010

I would have given these chemists more credit had they come up with a sensible alternative to alkaline water, but to suggest to take an antacid instead. This tells me they have no clue what they are talking about.

Antacids are terrible for you, and they cause permanent damage to your intestinal tract after prolonged use.

By anon80124 — On Apr 26, 2010

How is it that alkaline water is said to have no benefit when it hits the stomach acids when it is likely to change the pH because of its presence. It may not be a significant change but it's impossible that there will be no effect. --

Watts

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